ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
Know Your Asthma Triggers
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Tai Chi: An Ideal Exercise for Many People with Diabetes
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Safe Toys for Dogs
BONES & JOINTS
Many Americans Fall Short on Their Vitamin D
Hip Replacement Boosts Mobility at Any Age
Human Ancestors Put Best Foot Forward 1.5M Years Ago
CANCER
Seaweed May Help Treat Lymphoma
Multiple Screening Strategy Boosts Cervical Cancer Detection
Bitter Melon Extract May Slow, Stop Breast Cancer
CAREGIVING
TV Watching Doesn't Fast-Track Baby's Skills
Exercise During Pregnancy May Help Baby
Simpler Sleep Apnea Treatment Seems Effective, Affordable
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
Exercise May Blunt Salt's Effect on Hypertension
Smog Tougher on the Obese
COSMETIC
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
Gum Chewing May Cut Craving for Snacks
Study Evaluates Laser Therapies for Hair Removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Gum Care Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes and Its Complications
Biological Product Shows Promise Against Gum Disease
Laser Technology Spots Cavities Before They Start
DIABETES
Red-Grape Compound May Improve Diabetes
Lifestyle Factors Tied to Older Adults' Diabetes Risk
Diabetes Linked to Cognitive Problems
DIET, NUTRITION
Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels
Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Depression
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Vitamin D Deficit May Trigger MS Risk Gene
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Stomach Germ May Protect Against Asthma
EYE CARE, VISION
Brain Pressure More Likely to Cause Vision Loss in Men
Contact Lens Cases Often Contaminated
Decorative Halloween Eye Lenses May Pose Serious Risks
FITNESS
School Phys. Ed. Injuries Up 150 Percent
Weak Muscles May Cause 'Runner's Knee'
Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Olive Oil May Protect Against Bowel Disease
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
GENERAL HEALTH
Vitamin D and Bone Health: Are You Getting Enough of This Important Vitamin?
What you need to know about swine flu.
Have Fun This Summer, But DO Be Careful
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
The Internet Is Becoming One-Stop Shopping for Health Help
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Laughter Can Boost Heart Health
Omega-3, Some Omega-6 Fatty Acids Boost Cardiovascular Health
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
Older Adults May Have Some Immunity to Swine Flu
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Should Your Child Be Seeing a Chiropractor?
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
Play Creatively as a Kid, Be a Healthier Adult
MEN'S HEALTH
Strenuous Daily Workout May Keep Cancer at Bay
Eating Fast Until Full Triples Overweight Risk
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
MENTAL HEALTH
Memory Loss Help from Brain Supplement Prevagen
Heal Your Life® Tips for Living Well
Common Social Groups and Race, Seem to Help People Relate
PAIN
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Pre-Pregnancy Weight Linked to Babies' Heart Problems
Alternative Treatments May Boost IVF Success
SENIORS
Life Expectancy in U.S. Hits New High
15-Point Test Gauges Alzheimer's Risk
High-Impact Activity May Be Good for Old Bones
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Pay Attention to Signs That Say You're Too Fatigued to Drive
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
Better Sleep, Grades Seem to Go Up
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Soy May Not Lead to Denser Breasts
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Add your Article

Eating Free Range

Reflecting back on a trip to Puerto Rico, I am still intrigued by the variety of beliefs surrounding meat or animal product consumption. I remember touring my friend's family farm, where I learned first-hand about the traditional “pasture to plate” process. Being a vegetarian, I was at least comforted by the fact that the animals lived a "happy" life despite their destiny. When one of my hosts offered me a piece of fresh beef at dinner, it was quite an interesting conversation to explain my non-meat eating ways without seeming disrespectful. I could tell he had trouble understanding the concept that meat simply did not work well with my body.

Have you ever wrestled with the quandary of whether you should eat animal products? No wonder – we are bombarded with so much confusing and sometimes contradictory information regarding the pros and cons. This can be examined in two contexts: the micro-level of your own bio-individuality and the macro-level of supporting humane sustainability in the world.

When you explore your body’s protein needs from animal products, you should first consider your own bio-individuality. This refers to our genetically determined and unique nutritional requirements. I like to think that our bodies know best. Applying bio-individuality involves experimenting with different quality animal products and then listening to your body’s inner wisdom about how it feels. Various factors such as personal taste and preference, natural shape and size, blood type, metabolic rate, and genetic factors play a role in determining how much and what type of protein source will truly nourish you. Some people crave and thrive off animal products, while others feel not so good. It is up to you then, to discover what works best for your body.

In addition, the source (sustainable farms versus industrial farms) directly impacts the environment, the economy, and our social and spiritual health. Sustainable farming is a method to produce food that respects and supports the environment and local communities. These methods preserve green space, provide habitat for wildlife, and stimulate the local economy. The products are also healthier because of higher levels of “good” fats and nutrients in animals that are fed a traditional grass diet, allowed to roam freely outdoors, and have normal social interactions. Industrial farming is a large-scale method to maximize food production and profits. These methods involve the heavy use of hormones and antibiotics, unsanitary and inhumane confinement of animals, pollution, and large fossil fuel requirements. Animals are seen as commodities versus living, breathing beings. When you eat industrial-farmed animals, not only do you eat the physical toxins (hormones, antibiotics, and pesticide residues), but also the metaphysical toxins (fear, despair, and horror). This can certainly affect your social and spiritual health.

Industrial farming is often justified as a means to serve the food demands of our increasing population and may seem more cost effective in the short-term. But the hidden economic, environmental, and health costs in the longer term are often not factored in. For example, sustainable foods bought locally, minimize fuel to transport the product and serve to support local farmers and economies. Industrial farming methods lead to the destruction and depletion of our environment by deforestation for more fields to grow grain-based animal feed, contamination of our water supply from animal waste, and being the largest contributor to greenhouse gases. These methods are also linked to alarming health concerns such as increasing rates of precocious puberty, infertility, and the emergence of more antibiotic-resistant disease.

Once we slowly allow ourselves to become aware of the current state, we become empowered rather than helpless; informed rather than ignorant. We can make more conscious choices regarding the quality and quantity of our animal products. Fortunately, there are standards to help guide our choices. Labels such as organic, free-range, pasture-raised, grass-fed, and certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (for seafood) indicate more humane, and often more nutritious, animal products. Yes, it may cost more at the register and in the short-term, but what will the long-term expense be to our individual health, the economy, and the environment if we continue our current practices?

I like to consider myself a "flexible vegetarian." I have experimented with many stricter forms of eating and have realized that my body enjoys the occasional sliver of chicken or white fish, preferably from sustainable farming methods. As I am learning in my travels, there are many cultural beliefs that influence our dietary choices. Good luck explaining what a vegetarian is to my Latin elders! The best way to decide whether to eat animal products is to experiment consciously without judgment and then observe how your body feels, physically and spiritually. Honor your bio-individuality and remember to read labels to guide your choices. Try products from local farms raised in humane ways and do not be afraid to ask how their animals were treated. What we eat is a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. By nourishing yourself with animal products that were not subjected to unnecessary violence and that support sustainability, you bring more peace into your own life and the world around you.

Dr. Christine Gonzalez is a holistic health coach, pharmacist, and herbalist. She works with clients on how to nourish their bodies and develop a healthy self image. She also lectures and writes on various health-related topics. Contact her at christine@christinegonzalez.com or visit www.christinegonzalez.com for more information on her Nourishing Balanced Energy program.